The Mars Underground Loses One of Its Founders

Mars Society Announcement

July 11, 2012

Tom Meyer, an important figure in the efforts over the last 40 years to make human exploration and settlement of Mars a reality, passed away June 27, 2012 after a long illness.

Tom was a founder of The Mars Underground and the lead organizer of the Case for Mars conferences and activities from 1983 to 1996 that helped to keep the dream alive of human Mars exploration during a long period that the American space program was dominated by the Space Shuttle and operations in Low Earth Orbit.

The Case for Mars conferences led directly to the founding of the Mars Society, and Tom was a founding member of that organization as well. As a conference and workshop organizer during the Case for Mars conference series period, Tom was known for his attention to detail and the individual attention he gave to every participant and their needs. He firmly believed that the Case for Mars should not advocate an ideology but should provide a neutral forum where all viewpoints could be expressed. He succeeded in instituting that belief.

Tom was devoted to hastening humanity’s expansion beyond Earth. He was an accomplished scientist whose work spanned many fields including geophysics, computer science, aerospace engineering and science policy. His diverse professional and academic interests included designing and building systems for In Situ Resource Utilization at Mars. An early advocate for Educational and Public Outreach aspects of Space missions, he helped develop the EPO website for the Stardust mission that returned samples from a comet. He was also web-master and an avid participant in the Deep Space Exploration Society of Boulder Colorado, a private group conducting radio astronomy research with a 60 ft parabolic radio dish antenna.

Even in the final terminal phases of Tom’s illness, he devoted his remaining energy to completing a study of a human Asteroid exploration mission (LeCompte, Meyer, Horsewood, McKay, and Durda. Early, Short-Duration, Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Missions, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, 49, 4, 2012). Tom believed this mission could give humans early, deep-space interplanetary travel experience without posing extraordinary technical challenges and so would provide a precursor to human Mars exploration and beyond.

In many phases of his work during the past 27 years, Tom was ably assisted by his long time and devoted companion Keli McMillen. She has recently assumed leadership of the Boulder Center for Science and Policy, a nonprofit corporation founded by Tom, to carry his legacy into the future.

Tom was a sympathetic and attentive friend, always generous with his time. He touched many and his presence in The Mars Underground will be sorely missed.

[Prepared by the Mars Society]

The Mars Society